How Does Porn Affect Women? {NSFW}

Via on Oct 14, 2013

that hipster porn

Here is the simple truth: porn makes women feel bad about themselves.

It makes us feel as if we are not interesting enough, young enough, thin enough, hot enough, wanton enough… the list is long.

I can already hear the cries from the peanut gallery, “Speak for yourself!”

Okay, I will—but you better believe I’m speaking for a lot of other women too.

I’m coming to this subject from a relatively unique viewpoint. Though I have never been involved in porn, I am an ex-dancer. (Which, many people think is the same thing. Allow me to disavow you of that notion. Dancers dance, people in porn have sex. Yes, there can be an overlap there, but that is not the norm and was never the case for me or 99 percent of the girls with whom I danced.)

You might think my being an ex-dancer de-sensitized me to porn—not true. If anything, it made me more aware of my feelings about pornography; because I was associated with it in a round about way, and because it was generally assumed that I was okay with it, possibly even liked it.

I hate porn.

And whenever I say or hear the word “hate,” I know that what I’m really hearing or saying is the word “fear.” So, I am afraid of porn.

Why? What is there to be afraid of?

At its most-basic level, porn is merely an image or group of images designed to gratuitously portray sex. These images are populated by strangers who we will never know or meet, and as such, appear to be benign.

Porn has been around since the dawn of time—all cultures have it, it’s human nature to enjoy titillation. Similarly, all cultures have people who think pornography is unethical, shameful, hurtful or just wrong. So the debate about its worth is as old as porn itself.

I am not in the business of shaming or telling other people what their ethics should be. I don’t think you are a bad person if you watch porn—or frankly, even if you are in porn.

And maybe I truly only have a problem with it because I still struggle with my own self-esteem. Why should it matter to me if my husband watches it? He’s not going to call up any of the women he sees and ask them out for coffee. He doesn’t want to be married to them. It’s like being hurt because he’s reading a comic book. It’s just a comic book, right?

Wrong.

First of all, when I see women in porn, I see real people with real feelings. (My apologies to the men here… I know there must be emotional issues for male actors as well, but I have no sense of what they are. Perhaps that’s another piece of the puzzle.)

Many porn actresses will go to their grave saying they “love their job,” and only they can know, but I’m still going to call ‘bullshit’ when I see it. In my opinion, the only woman who likes to get fucked on camera for the untold masses has a big self-esteem problem. If that’s true, then porn is victimization. We are deriving pleasure from someone else’s pain.

Also, while I don’t expect to be the be-all, end-all for any guy I’m with, I would like to believe that my body, heart and soul are more interesting than a 19-year old with a bald undercarriage and a “money shot” sliding off her face. (Ew. I seriously just grossed myself out there.)

Men should know that porn isn’t harmless, even if they watch it in secret. I understand that men are visual creatures, and that they are born with the instinct to spread their seed (or maybe I only think I understand that because that’s what I’ve been told by every man I ever knew since I was a wee lass), but what ever happened to self control? If you know what you are doing is hurtful to someone you care about, or hurtful to someone you don’t know, but who is human all the same, why would you continue to do it?

In answer to the question of: What am I afraid of?—I’m thinking, a lot of things.

I am afraid of living in a time when pornography has been normalized and is becoming an ever-more predominant part of our daily lives. I am afraid that porn will rob me of the ability to embrace my own sexuality, because my understanding of healthy sex has been so hopelessly skewed. I am afraid that porn will forever color and shade my feelings and perceptions about sex, and that I will never know what a porn-free world might feel like.

My fantasy has nothing to do with being tied up, or watching other people copulate, or being swept away by a knight in shining armor.

My fantasy is simply to enjoy real sex, without all the extraneous crap that’s been handed down to me from a male-dominated culture. My fantasy is to feel like a sexy, confident woman all the time. My fantasy is to have that happen in a world where every other woman feels the same way, and we can all reflect the eroticism of self-celebration back upon each other.

 

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Ed: Sara Crolick

 

About Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a certified Yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, student of Buddhism, vegan chef and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children. She aims to apply the principles of Yoga to real life. Between teaching Yoga, holding vegan cooking seminars, writing and cycling she spends her time as a taxi service to her children, being walked by her dogs, and trying to dream up an alternative to doing the laundry. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg, and you can never dance too much. You can connect with Erica on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

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14 Responses to “How Does Porn Affect Women? {NSFW}”

  1. I totally agree with you on how it affects women and causes them to think down on themselves. I definitely have compared myself to women in the porn industry…It has made me feel less of a person knowing I'll never be as beautiful/sexy/good in bed as those women are.

  2. annmarie says:

    This is amazing and thank you for speaking about this.
    You conveyed my exact sentiments on this subject. My main thing with porn is the whole not feeling good enough as a result. If my significant other is looking at it, then what am I? Chopped liver? Then the thought process goes into, 'well, why can't he just think of me when he needs to get off? am I doing something wrong? am I not satisfying?'… There are just *so* many insecurities that can arise out of this unnecessary thing and I feel like if a spouse truly loves and cares for you, then they will honor you, your body, and your mind by making healthy and wise decisions when it comes to sex.
    Becoming desensitized without one's consent isn't good for anybody and I just hope it is realized sooner rather later.

    I love your work, Erica! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! It's admirable.

  3. Peter says:

    So…how is porn harmful exactly?

  4. Jo Beth says:

    Thank you so much for speaking out and especially for the comment that you want to enjoy real sex. My husband watches porn (usually amateur) and is fond of telling me this is "real" in what is being portrayed. So many men think what they see is real in that the women like what is being done. They (male viewers) seem to ignore that what they see has been filmed to cater to a male's fantasies – even when women are masturbating solo – it is for male enjoyment and that is primary. Personally, I hate some of the "ideas" my husband brings to bed. While in the vid he watched, she sounded like she enjoyed it, it doesn't feel good in the real application. It is true that men are visual creatures and seem compelled to see naked women or think about women naked, when they are watching porn and relaxing, they are ignoring their wife who might be needing a little TLC or just want to connect with her man.

  5. Lou Lamm says:

    When porn becomes a teaching aid, we are seriously held back from authentic self expression. Are men so clueless about the woman's anatomy, that they need visual proof of what to look for? How a woman responds to a thrusting unloving penis, is about all one could expect from cheap porn, because there IS no love, which is my point. Porn is not about loving….its an insulting assault on the female recipient. Men? Put away the porn and learn to love yourselves and your female companion. Find the reward. A real woman prefers loving connection to your penis.

  6. Damien says:

    I loved this article up until you wrote “male dominated culture”.

    Suddenly I felt a rush of blame flying against me… That as a man porn is my fault, the current issues we face are my fault because us men dominated the culture so fully.

    I don’t like that. There is a problem inherent with the feminist stance of blaming a male dominated culture for our current challenges… The big one is it paints women as niaeve and innocent VICTIMS of men’s dominance. And I give women so much more credit than that. Our current cultural make-up, including porn, was co-created by both men and women. Most of the actresses in a porn movie are NOT held by threats and enter freely, whether they suffer low self-esteem or not it’s not as a victim of men rather as a part of the unfolding of human cultural and individual evolution.

    The faster we get on board with sharing the responsibility for the current state of things, and stop with the pointing of fingers (yes feminists I’m talking to you) the faster we can integrate our wounds and move into a more embodied compassionate culture and pave the way for our children to grow up in a world that has moved beyond.

    That being said I completely agree with the damaging effects of porn to both men’s and women’s psyches and I appreciate reading this woman’s perspective.

    Thank you.

  7. John says:

    Not all porn is created equal!

    Although we want it to be all equal, all meshed together in this clear, viscerally felt 'not-right-thing', that is mingled in with a variety of judgements about the people in it – she has low self-esteem, he is a misogynist, are they track marks?, what a brute, how insensitive she is, etc.

    There's an endless abyss full of stereotypes that we can choose from. Perhaps some of them are true in some instances at some point in time. They help us to categorise, chunk things together, make sense of the world – it's a comedians fuel for comedy gold.

    This is what I think is going on in this article – stereotyping. And making a ethical judgement based on that stereotype. Ain't nutting wrong with that. It's good to share what stereotypes we cling onto so, hopefully, be free of them.

    I say this because 'not all porn is created equal'. When you talks about porn it seems like you are talking about this singular thing when, in actuality, it's not. Go to any porn site and you'll see the diversity of porn. Yes, you'll see some of the porn that I think you are referring to, the kind of aggressive, cliche, uncaring, animals doing what they do like on the discovery channel kind of thing – very root (ha!) chakra or 2nd chakra. There's a plethora of this kind of porn, perhaps it's representative of where the vast majority of people are at in terms of transparent sexuality.

    This kind of porn seems more likely to involve women who are desperate, or with low self-esteem, or lacking support or something combined with the standard domineering man who's more than willing to have a little fun. This is what I think you are talking about. If you gave an example it'll be more clear but you don't. Can you give me an example?

    However, there's porn out there which involves clear intimacy between male and female, which involves women enjoying not "the money shot" but the potent life goo of her loved one all of her face, which involves men face deep in the life giving yoni of their partner being oozed all over, which involves something not-base, not 1st or 2nd charkraish.

    This is still porn, yet it's not porn in that singular sense I pointed out above.

    The danger isn't porn, the danger is 'stereotyping', or not recognising the stereotype for whatever reason and using that as a basis to generalise and then judge from when in fact the actually reality of something, of anything is fare more nuance and diverse than we could ever imagine.

    • Sam says:

      Excellent response, John.
      Additionally, it's important to remember that there are many things that are a part of the world that, however much we wish we could envision a portion of our lives without it, that is simply not possible. For example, the author here wants to experience a life without porn. Not going to happen, because porn is now embedded in the collective consciousness of our societal culture.
      Maybe one would like to live a life in which the government and police enforcers aren't telling us that we can't smoke marijuana, that we can't utilize mind-expanding drugs in a responsible fashion, etc. That too is not going to happen, because people will always want to push their views on others, whether the 'others' like it or not.
      To the author–what may be best is if you work on your own self esteem issues and realize that there is nothing good nor bad, but thinking makes it so. And that if you fear pornography, you must begin to come to terms with it in order to accept it and to accept yourself more fully. Remember the old adage: Love YOU first!

  8. vegancinephile says:

    I can't believe that people assumed that because you were a dancer, it somehow "desensitized" you to porn. Dance makes you hyper-aware of your body, both physically and spiritually. I would think that would make you hyper-aware, as you say.

    Pornography is for men, plain and simple. That doesn't mean that women don't occasionally get off on it, but overall it is constructed for male audiences. Whenever I see the women in those videos all I think about is that they have a mother out there and that something went terribly wrong during their upbringing.

    Yes, not all porn is created equal, and some of it is simply couples filming themselves having sex. However, when men bring ideas into their marriage bed, saying "oh she liked this in the video" I can't help but laugh at their ignorance — they are being PAID to ACT like they like it!

  9. demetra says:

    I do agree that you speak for a lot of women- however, I am not one of them. I have no problem with porn and I don't care if my boyfriend watches porn (although, to be fair, he says he barely ever has since we started dating). And I totally agree about the girls probably having many emotional issues, and most likely the boys as well. But really, there's so many people with so many issues in this world. I think that the only reason to fear porn is if you are insecure with yourself. If you watch it and can only think about how you don't measure up, that's a problem, and a more important one than watching people having sex. Porn will never take the place of having a real connection and awesome sex, but I really don't think it's as big of an issue as people make it seem. It isn't real.. as long as you understand that, it's okay

  10. Allison says:

    I understand this author's viewpoint. I really do. I would just like to share my own thoughts. For me, porn is power. I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want, and enjoy my own sexuality in a way that I wouldn't be able to with my boyfriend. He's not kinky, so I can't do the things in bed with him that I'd always like to. I am a very confident person in myself, my body, my sexuality. For me, porn is just a tool of enjoyment. I don't think too deeply about the women or men in the videos I'm watching, because for me its more about visual and auditory stimulation than the actual people or sometimes even the act. Porn does not affect my self esteem or my sex life. But I understand those who feel victimized in some ways by porn. It's important to be aware of what makes you comfortable and what doesn't so you can communicate that to yourself and others.

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